Symphonicity
Apr
28
2011
New York City, USApollo Theatre
With None
1
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Sting Fan Show at the Apollo - Fun Flubs and Triumphs...

Before Sting would take his 'Symphonicities' tour to Eastern Europe this summer, he needed a tune-up. So he chose the world famous Apollo Theater for last night's show - with an audience comprising fan club members, family and friends. Every seat was taken, and then some as the fans - some of whom traveled great distances - kept running up near the stage and staying there. They were almost all women, and they had their dancing shoes on.

The show - with nearly 40 musicians crammed onto the stage including virtuoso guitarist Dominic Miller and knock out vocalist Jo Lawry- pretty much reproduced the same set Sting did last summer at the Metropolitan Opera and on his CD, 'Live in Berlin'. Thanks to producer Rob Mathes, the sound was deep and clear, with standouts including 'Why Do I Cry for You?', 'When You Dance', 'The End of the Game', and 'I Hung My Head'. There were a couple of flubs, proving the meticulous Sting is human - he flubbed a big vocal note twice - sort of a double lutz-before getting it right. The audience loved it. He also "went up" on his famous ballad, 'Fragile'.

"Thanks for noticing," he told me at the after party around the corner at the Red Rooster. A surprise highlight of the night: an acoustic solo version of 'Message in a Bottle', with the audience singing along. Also, his son, Joe Sumner, of the group Fiction Plane, got a wild ovation for his solo on 'Two Sisters'.

And where was Mrs. Sting, Trudie Styler, who never misses a show? Why she was at Harvard University, on a human rights panel moderated by Rose Styron called 'T Squares: from Tiananmen to Tahrir," with director Michael Apted, plus Larry Cox and Josh Rubenstein of Amnesty International.

(c) Showbiz411 by Roger Friedman

COMMENTS 1
stingcom July 05,2011
Sting at the Apollo...
Gently humming Bobby Womack's ''Across a 110th Street'' as the yellow cab passed a street sign confirming that we had quite literally done just that, a violent thunderstorm broke out drenching the warm streets. The destination? 125th Street and one of the world's most iconic venues – Harlem's Apollo Theatre, home of the legendary Amateur Night, and career launching home of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Jackson 5, Patti Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill… You get the picture. There is probably no more famous venue in the entire United States.

Tonight though would see a very different artist stepping onto the famous stage. Sting was holding a low key concert as a rehearsal for his summer European ''Symphonicity'' tour. The show was primarily a chance for new conductor Sarah Hicks who is taking over baton wielding responsibilities from Steven Mercurio for these summer dates to acquaint herself with Sting's material and his group of core musicians for the tour – Dominic Miller (guitar), Ira Coleman (bass), Rhani Krija (percussion) and Jo Lawry (vocals) before they arrive in Europe in early June for an extensive tour.

The ''Symphonicity'' tour has found Sting reinventing many of his best known songs with a full 45 piece orchestra. Sting's not the first artist to work with a symphony orchestra and he certainly won't be the last, and he has an extensive back catalogue of strong material to call upon. Many of the arrangements of these songs have been handled by Rob Mathes, the Music Director for The Songwriter's Hall Of Fame and regular go-to-guy when a major musical event is on the cards such as the Obama Inauguration Concert, the Kennedy Centre Honours etc. Accordingly, these new arrangements of old songs emanate class and sophistication. It may sound like it shouldn't work, but it does - and surprisingly well.

Sting opened strongly at the Apollo with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', a rapturously received (unsurprisngly) 'Englishman In New York', and a gorgeous version of 'Roxanne' got the evening off to a flying start. 'Roxanne' in particular with it's swirling strings and beautiful vocal performance was as good a rendering as we've have ever heard live. It's a far cry from The Police, but that's not a bad thing. One of the features of a great song is that it can be stripped back and rebuilt in many ways with each version using the same DNA but having it's own character.

Sting then performed some lesser known tracks followed including the karmic-cowboy number 'I Hung My Head' which Johnny Cash covered on his last album; the haunting tribute to his late father 'Why Should I Cry For You?'; and the Grammy winning 'Whenever I Say Your Name' with Jo Lawry handling the vocal duties provided by Mary J. Blige on the original version. The sentiment of 1985′s 'Russians' may have dated somewhat, but having borrowed originally from Prokofiev, it was arguably the evening's most obvious contender for the full orchestral treatment.

A surprise guest, Sting's son Joe Sumner, (band leader of rockers Fiction Plane) joined the proceedings to perform his track 'Two Sisters' with Sting quietly slipping out of the spotlight to the side of the stage where he joined Jo Lawry on backing vocals. The first half of the show closed with the first track from the first Police album, 'Next To You'. It was astonishing to hear this three chord thrash being performed by a 45 piece orchestra with bows thrashing wildly and the audience on their feet singing along at the top of their voices, and shows just what a skilled arranger like Mathes can do.

A short intermission gave everyone a chance to catch their breath and enjoy a drink at the bar, before Dominic Miller hit the opening chords of 'Shape Of My Heart', which he co-wrote with Sting in 1993. This proved a sublime way to start the second half of the show, and was followed by 'This Cowboy Song' which provided the unique sight of Sting, Miller and bassist Ira Coleman provide some light-hearted line dancing (well, sort of) during the instrumental break in the song. 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' proved another song ideally suited to the orchestral treatment and even found Sting using a theremin to provide some suitably spooky theatricals to the song.

'King Of Pain' again found everyone on their feet for a communal sing-a-long and there they stayed for the rest of the evening, as Joe Sumner returned to provide backing vocals on a swinging 'Every Breath You Take'. The Arabian themed 'Desert Rose', the rockabilly of 'She's Too Good For Me', and the simple acoustic guitar of 'Fragile' brought the evening almost to a close. There was one final treat in store though as Sting returned for an acoustic version of 'Message In A Bottle' and left the audience heading out into the warm Harlem night with ''sending out an SOS…'' echoing in our ears.

(c) Dave & Wendy for Sting.com